Parshat Para: We Can Rise Again

The reading of Parshat Para and the sin of the Golden Calf on the same Sabbath can be connected spiritually.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Arutz 7
Life, as we know, is often inscrutable. While we certainly experience life and know a lot about it
- and even try to master it - its intricacies and its deeper meaning are often beyond us, and defy
our intellect and understanding.

So, too, the Torah. We marvel at its wisdom, its logic, its timeless ability to inspire and
invigorate us. But it, too, has an inscrutable side, a point beyond which even the most brilliant among us cannot journey. The section chosen by the Rabbis to represent this principle is the Para Aduma, the red heifer whose essence is beyond mortal reason.

What is so unique about the Para Aduma that it is the Chok (law without explanation) par excellence? And why is it read in tandem with the section dealing with the sin of the Golden Calf?

Parshat Chukat describes in detail the elaborate ritual of the Para Aduma. Not only is it killed, but its skin, its hide, its blood - even its excrement! - is burned until only ash remains. And that ash has the power to make the person who is spiritually impure tahor again! What in blazes.?!

Now, I would never claim to know more than King Solomon the Wise, who was baffled by this statute. And yet, I see something here that defies reason and logic, but yet makes perfect sense: When it comes to Israel and the Jewish People, we have the power to "return from the dead" and to rise from the ashes - if we follow G-d's intricate guidelines and prescription for us.

And so, just as the individual who is tamei (ritually impure) - in a state of semi-death, unable to perform many, if
not most of the commandments - can return to active spiritual life through the ashes of the red heifer - so our nation, time and again, emerged from the smoke & ash of pogroms, Inquisitions and Shoahs (Holocaust) - to national life renewed and vigorous.

And is this not the same pattern which occurred after the Golden Calf? We had reached such an elevated spiritual state, perfect in every way, and then we came crashing down, the Luchot (two tablets of the law) smashed into pieces before us.

But then what did we do? We "picked up the pieces," we did Teshuva (repentance), we climbed the mountain
once again and received a 2nd set of Luchot. And you know what? This set of Luchot was eternal and would never be broken again!

G-d - it's so obvious now, isn't it? - is trying to send us a powerful message through the words of this week's readings. He is telling us that even if we are broken, even if we have been left for dead, even if life seems impossibly
hopeless, do not ever be "cowed" into submission.

Our fortunes, personal or as a People, may have "gone south" for a while, but we shall surely rise again.